Mike Trout should be mentioned alongside baseball’s greats – The Denver Post

Ask anyone for a list of baseball’s greatest players and chances are you get a consensus on a few names such as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Hank Aaron. It’s time to add Mike Trout to that list, because what he is doing this year, in addition to his overall career, is sensational.

The 26-year-old center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels and two-time MVP is batting .310 while leading the majors in home runs (23), walks (54) and on-base percentage (.438), in addition to creating runs at a rate that is more than double the league average after accounting for league and park effects (202 wRC+).

“That guy has been unbelievable,” Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger said of Trout. “Unfortunately, he’s on the opposite team from us, but nothing but respect for what that guy can do.”

Trout has always been productive at the plate — his career OPS heading into this season was .976, 72 percent higher than the average player — but improved plate discipline has helped him find another level of efficiency. He’s chasing a career-low 18 percent of pitches out of the strike zone while making contact on a career-high 90 percent of pitches in the strike zone.

This is just the latest example of Trout working on his weaknesses. For example, in 2014 he struggled with fastballs, especially those high in the zone, hitting .223 with 75 strikeouts in 215 at-bats ending on the pitch. He’s hit .315 with a 1.124 OPS against fastballs since.

Trout mashes off-speed pitches, too. According to data from TruMedia, he is hitting .414 with a 1.554 OPS against change-ups and splitters with five of his 23 home runs coming off those offerings. Curveballs have been an issue in terms of power, but that, too, is relative. His .600 slugging against that pitch is strong despite having just one home run against curves this year. Trout has hit five home runs against sliders in 2018.

With such a well-rounded approach at the plate, it is hard to find ways to improve. Since breaking into the majors in 2011, he leads the league in OPS (.985), weighted on-base average (.416 wOBA), a metric that combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value, and runs created (171 wRC+) after adjusting for league and park effects. Yet Trout is offering even more value to his team through his fielding, which is also on the upswing.

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